The timing of flu season is very unpredictable and can vary from year to year as well as in different parts of the country. Seasonal flu activity often begins as early as October and can continue to occur as late as May. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.
The exact number of flu illnesses that occur each year is not known, since flu is not a reportable disease. Surveillance Network (ILINet) collects information on outpatient illnesses and FluSurv-Net collects information on hospitalizations. Using mathematical modeling in combination with data from these traditional flu surveillance systems, the CDC estimates that flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses each year in the United States since 2010. Since 2010, CDC estimates that flu has also resulted in between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations each year.
As it does for the numbers of flu cases, doctor’s visits and hospitalizations, CDC also estimates deaths in the United States using mathematical modeling. CDC estimates that influenza-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of 12,000 during 2011-2012 to a high of 56,000 during 2012-2013.
Influenza viruses usually infect the respiratory tract, including the airways of the nose, throat and lungs. As the infection sets in, the body’s immune system responds to fight the virus infection. This results in inflammation that can trigger respiratory symptoms such as a cough and sore throat. The immune system response can also trigger a fever and cause muscle or body aches.
When an infected person coughs, they can spread influenza viruses in respiratory droplets to someone in their vicinity. People can also become infected through contact with infectious secretions or contaminated surfaces.
Most people who become sick will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people may become more severely ill. Following a flu infection, secondary infections can occur to the ears, sinuses and lungs, which can include pneumonia. This can most likely happen to people who have certain chronic medical conditions, to very young people and to elderly people.
If you get sick with flu symptoms, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.
Foods & Nutrients to Boost Immunity
Water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, proteins such as collagen, phytonutrients, free radical-fighting antioxidants, omega 3 fats and probiotics are all important to strengthen the immune system. You also can’t forget about obtaining adequate sleep.
Vitamin A boosts immunity, lowers your risk of infection and supports wound healing through collagen strengthening.
Vitamin D plays a huge part in immune health and can impact at least 20% of all human genes. Try to get out in the sun too. Besides vitamin D, sunlight produces many other important biochemicals, some of which I am sure have not yet been identified.
Vitamin C is also a key player to boost immunity. Having bioflavanoids is important along with the vitamin C, since they work together to support your immune response and to help to produce collagen.
Vitamin K1, important for healthy blood clotting, as well as to help build immunity, along with its cousin vitamin K2, which is found in abundance in fermented vegetables.
Effective B vitamins for boosting the immune system are; B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B7 (biotin) B9, (methylfolate is preferred over folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin).
Phytonutrients come in all colors of the rainbow and to get a good balance, you should eat fruits and vegetables of all colors. Juicing is the best way to go, since you will get a high concentration of many nutrients. If you don’t have the time to shop and juice, there are some very good quality powdered juice and vegetable extracts too. I personally like Greens First.
Zinc is a mineral that is also a protective antioxidant and is important for; collagen production, activating white blood cells and is essential for the enzymatic reactions needed for wound healing.
Selenium is another powerful antioxidant for immune system protection. Good sources are Brazil nuts, organic grass fed beef, organic turkey and organic chicken.
Just as important as any food that you eat, drinking adequate amounts of pure water is vital for flushing toxins from your system and keeping your body well hydrated
Optimizing Your Gut Bacteria
Fermented vegetables and probiotics help to build your healthy gut bacteria. Kefir is also a probiotic rich food.
Fiber Helps Your Immune System Too
Not only does fiber help feed and balance your gut bacteria, it also helps improve your immune system. Fiber promotes regular bowel movements and keeps waste moving, not allowing toxins to fester.
Omega 3 Fats
Omega 3 fats are also excellent to build immunity, as well as heart health, brain health and can decrease cardiovascular disease too. Wild caught salmon is my personal choice for my omega 3 fats.
The body and brain rejuvenate, detoxify and heal during sleep. If you are sleep deprived, your immune resistance will drop like a rock. Don’t get run down during flu season by getting adequate amounts of quality sleep.
Don’t get your body clogged up with junk. Avoid junk foods, processed food, sugar and high carb foods too. Excessive alcohol also isn’t a good idea for any season, especially during flu season.
The final tip is to try not to get stressed out during flu season. Stress robs you body of many vital nutrients and lowers your immunity too.